" The Virtue of Patience "

Discussion in 'Horns' started by Larry Gianni, Mar 20, 2004.

  1. Larry Gianni

    Larry Gianni Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Los Angeles
    a quote by Bud Brisbois

    " the most important factor in developing the high register is desire , the patience to wait and the necessary time to acquire it "

    one from Al Porcino:

    " the high note mania that has taken the entire trumpet family in recent years...has caused me no small concern and anxiety. Trumpeters are willing to sacrifice the art of making " pretty music " in the quest of the mighty and holy " Altissimo Bb"

    Another from Don Jacoby:

    "...Kids think that being a good trumpet player is being able to play "High". The reality is being able to play "High" is a result of being a good trumpet player "

    Recently, a New York trumpet player by the name of Ed Kalny ( he has been a pro player for over30 working in New York and was playing in the days of Bernie Glow) gave me a call just really to talk " trumpet " and discuss the NY scene which he is apart of. I must tell you it was quite a surprise to get a call from a total stranger about something I had written on this site and to hear that it had really struck a chord with him. We have talked many times since - he is a super nice guy - and I now consider him to be a long distance friend, Well as the conversation continued, he touched on something that I also had been thinking about and noticing lately. The trumpeter's syndrome of


    Anyway, as the conversation progressed, he told me of a talk with a prominent classical trpt player/teacher ( principal in a major orchestra ) that he sees on occasion and made comments about his concern , along with his colleagues, with how fast young players wanted certain aspects of their playing to flourish, yet were not willing to give the amount of time necessary or the patience to make it happen in the traditional time test fashions.

    His observation was that the normal mindset a young player embraces is more along the lines of trying a new mouthpiece or trumpet brand to cure the problem and facilitate a more rapid development in certain area's

    With the advent of the MTV generation and it's quick editing format, Internet cyber-advise and cyber- lessons , instant access to new and improved trumpet gear with the touch of a keystroke and the very fast pace of life and society in general plus a driving eagerness for success at the earliest age possible, have we lost something that had made the " greats " great?

  2. Larry Smithee

    Larry Smithee New Friend

    Dec 2, 2003
    Well said, LG.
  3. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    And to add.. not only "quick results" for learning new things, instant gratification, etc. but "quick results" to the bottom line, instant shareholder satisfaction, c/w the resultant running down of companies and their eventual demise...their products to be replaced by cheap goods made offshore.

    The very pension plans that those quick stock results are wanted for are the very ones that are going to have to support the contributors after they've lost their jobs! (provided that the management of the companies haven't destroyed the pension plans as well....).

    "Patience, Grasshopper"

    Very well said, Larry.
  4. lonelyangel

    lonelyangel Pianissimo User

    Nov 8, 2003
    Nice thread Larry.

    These days I find myself in the position where people turn to me for advice or come to me for lessons. They usually want something of the way that I play for themselves or maybe they have come across a former student who's playing they admire and then been referred to me.
    All I can do is observe the way that they play and show them the stuff that other people showed me which I think might be helpful to them.
    What I can't do for them is put in the decades of practice that have got me to the level I am now at (still trying to get better BTW).

    I think you are right that their may be a desire for instant improvement these days - but I can almost make a promise with my students that if they do the work I set them they will get better. I also found that at various stages in my development I have made a quantum leap in ability - rather than just steady progress. i think this can happen sometimes when you are exposed to some new techniques for the first time - or when you have an epiphany and suddenly 'get' something that had been a mystery to you until that moment.

    However it is also possible that these perceived leaps in ability are in fact just steady incrimental improvements which you don't really notice are happening until suddenly you realise that you are playing something that you would have found impossible some time ago.

    I can remember as a pretty green professional - it was on my first pro date after leaving college ( I was lucky enough to get the gig at the Monaco Sporting Club for 3 months that summer - someone remind me to tell you some funny stories about that another time). There was an old pro in the band who used to be a first call lead trumpet player on the London session scene. He was on a par with the young Derek Watkins at the time but - in an all too common tale - his career had been ruined by alcohol and fast living. However he had a LOT of experience to share, which he did so with great joy and good grace and became something of a mentor to me during that season. Some of his advice had the disclaimer - "do what I say not what I do" - which is something that I often find myself saying to students too.

    However - and getting to the point - one piece of advice that ghas stuck with me had to do with my quest for higher notes. At that time I had a good High G and reasonable stamina - and I was always looking for opportunities to use my higher register, taking phrases up an octave etc.
    and I would be attempting things that I couldn't play - trying to get double As at the end of numbers and so on.
    He basically got me to calm down - spent time doing long tone warm ups with me and practicing Clarke studies. He said - "work on consolidating what you already have rather than just trying to add that next semi-tone". In other words he was aying quality not quantity - telling me to be patient and understand that real lead trumpet playing has very little to do with how high you can play. It is far better to have an E or an F that can knock a house down at your disposal, 100% of the time at any time of day or night. In fact it is almost essential to being a successful comercial trumpet player. He knew that I wasn't rock solid at that time but I think he saw my potential to build on what I had.

    To give some idea of the time scale. When I went to college in 1982 I was 18 years old and found it a struggle to play an A on the first ledger line. By the time I left 4 years later I could play up to a high G but would often struggle with notes above top C. A couple of years later and after begining to bear the fruits of my Caruso studies and of the lessons I took with Jon Faddis and I felt that I really owned that G and was able to play up to a double C in practice most days. It is only in the last 5 years or so that I have reached a level where I am expected to be able to play up to double C on sessions. For the last 10 years or so the highest note I had ever played was double Csharp - now suddenly in the last 6 weeks I seem to have added an extra tone to that register and am practicing up to Eflat every day. I don't know if this is really a leap that I have made or the result of gradual work over many years. I think there is certainly a mental aspect to it however - kind of breaking down my image of my own limitations.

    The main point is that it has taken me 35 years of playing and maybe 25 years of serious hard work to get to this level of ability. It has been a long slow process - and of course I am not only talking about range here, the same is true for all facets of my trumpet playing. Good things come to those who wait - eventually.

    Thanks Larry for getting me thinking once again.
    All the best, Noel.
  5. slimshady

    slimshady Pianissimo User

    Nov 24, 2003
    Thank You Noel !

    I think that is the best post I've read on this site. It is at least my favorite.

    Makes me want to go practice!
  6. Larry Gianni

    Larry Gianni Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Los Angeles

    You are 100% correct in your assessment. Thank you again.

    I think a determined, level headed player , disciplined and patient , progresses in very small, maybe un-noticeable increments to themselves , but all of a sudden, all the little increments turns into a leap that is a secure and playable part of the entire arsenal that is not only noticed by the player, but by his/her colleagues as well.

    Most times, the players around you notice your improvement long before you do. Like seeing a child every 2 or 3 months and how easy you can see how they have grown when the parents seem to be barely aware of it.

    My reference to " high notes " is really just a synonym for any specialized aspect of playing well. Playing High is an achievement that gets people /colleagues attention immediately and so the ego in all of us tends to covet that aspect of trumpet playing and it's development and want it to progress as rapidly as possibly.

    I am no saint , I to have to pull back on the reigns in my own practicing.

    Also, as you know , there is playing high notes and " Playing High Notes " meaning having a command, accuracy, ease and endurance of that aspect of trumpet while still being able to play musically using "the ability of range."

    Again, thanks to my NY friend Ed Kalny , who sent me an 1969 New Yorker Magazine containing an full length feature article of the great Bernie Glow , I'd like to give everyone a quote from Mr. Glow to think about -

    "There are dozens of trumpet players in New York who can play as high as I can, or higher - though in all frankness, there are a very few guys in town who can play as strong as I can for as long as I can. But what you have to do is play music. Some people play the trumpet, and some people play music using a trumpet "

    I know that greater demands are placed on young players ( or comeback players or pro players ) time and that todays time schedules are alot fuller than in years past, crowded to the point of rupture some days yet, as in my own case, less seems to get done.
    Ironic isn't it.

    I see concentration , patience and a goal as being your best allies in taking command and progressing in your playing.

  7. Graham Altham-Lewis

    Graham Altham-Lewis New Friend

    Feb 1, 2004
    I agree entirely that patience and hard work is the key - you seem to reach a plateau and then hard work over a long period of time doesn't seem to do much and then all of a sudden you make leaps and bounds ...until you reach the next plateau. I think this is a reason enough to try and make your practice sessions an enjoyable and worthwhile experience as possible.

    I was discussing this with a trumpet player who also teaches Phs Ed and he says the comparisons with Phs Ed and trumpet playing are incredible. When we play hard and high we are putting our lip muscles through the same demands a marathon runner does with their muscles. Maybe that is why we reach plateaus and then suddenly improve to the next plateau as this is exactly what happens to athletes. Trumpet playing is quite a physical exercise.

    He also said he wasted time as a high school student wanting to play higher when he should have spent more time playing what he could play as musically as possible. I think this probably rings true, or has rung true, for a lot of us. You see high school students wanting to play as high as possible when they would be much better trying to play musically in the staff maybe up to top c above. I sort of smile at them now and think yep - that's what I used to do to!

    Interestingly since I have stopped "practising" my upper register in terms of that was all I was trying to develop with the exercises my playing and upper register for what I need is more secure. I have been working through just the first three exercixes in Clarkes technical studies and even though they only go up to top C they have made my top E flat in the Haydn so much more secure (this is pretty much the usable limit of my upper register but until I need more I am happy with this as I don't play lead and the Haydn is the only piece I have that goes this high - I prefer to spend my time trying to play Martinu's Sonata for example which is mainly in the staff sound better). I think the Clarkes studies must just develop the breathing in the correct manner.

    Sorry I will stop now as this is getting a bit long!

    Cheers everyone and happy playing!


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